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Old 06-26-2008, 08:04 PM
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Hello. My family & friends are taking the Emerald Princess this summer from Cictavecchia stopping at the following ports: Monte Carlo, Liverno, Naples, Santorini, Kusadasi, Mykonos, Athens, Katakolon, Corfu and Venice. OUr group of 10 includes four teenagers and my active but 80 year old parents. We have a diverse age group of travelers and are trying to accomodate everyone. I have done a lot of research and would like some opinions on what we have tentively decided to do in each port:

1.)Monte Carlo:My parents will take the Princess tour of Monte Carlo. The rest of us plan to take a bus or train to Eze...I have not yet figured out which would be best...Help!!

2.)Liverno: My parents have been to Florence many times so they will enjoy the ship. The rest of us plan to take a train to Florence & then on to Pisa & back to Liverno. Is this too much to do...we have about 10 hours? Our alternative would be to take the Princess "bus ride" to Florence @ $60 per person

3.) Naples: We have previously been to Pompei, Capri and Sorrento...any alternative suggestions?

4.) Santorini: My parents plan on taking the Princess bus tour of the island @$60 per person. The rest of us are planning to take the Princess Cruise & Hike to Santorini Volcano @ $50 per person. Are these worth the cost or are there other alternatives?

5.) Kusadasi: We plan on highering a driver @ about 60 Euro per day per person to take all of us to see the sights. Anything special beyond Virgin Mary House, St JOhn's and Ephesus that we should request? Would we be better off doing the Princess Shore Excursion?

6.) Mykonos: We plan on winging it here. We are hoping to find some water sports/adventure type activity for the teenagers...can anyone help with that?

7.) Athens: Originally we thought we would higher a driver but now think we might not need one. We were thinking of doing a walking tour around the Acropolis & surrounding area...the tour director meets you at the subway station. We are just not sure how hard it is to get from the ship to the city/subway. Can anyone help with this. Any interesting suggestions for the teenagers?

8.Katakolon: We are all planning on taking the Princess excursion to Olympia. Any thoughts on this. Also, is this a port we might find some adventurous activities for the teenagers?

9. Corfu: My parents are planning on the Princess "Glance at Hiden Greece" tour. Is this worth it? The rest of us are planning on winging this port...any suggestions of what would be good to do?

Thank you so much for any help you can provide...all these ports have proved to be overwhelming!
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Old 06-26-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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Wow. This is going to take some time to answer . I guess the base way is to do it one by one.
1. Monte Carlo - There is no train that can get you easily to Eze since the station is way below the city at Eze/Bord sur Mer. From there you still need a bus (the schedule is irregular or a taxi...which is hard to find). There is a local bus that runs from Monte Carlo directly to Eze and this would be your best bet. Check with the local tourist information folks as to the bus # and the closest stop to the ship.

2. Livorno- Your major problem will be getting from the ship to the train station. Most of the local taxis do not want to take this relatively short trip, so you have to be a little assertive with the taxis on the pier. My suggestion would be to go to Florence just like you planned, make sure you take a good look at the train schedule (there is usually one train per hour back to Pisa/Livorno) and enjoy yourselves in Florence. In the early afternoon you will have to make a decision whether to leave Florence early for Pisa, or to spend more time in Florence. No reason to plan this in advance, just do what feels right at the time. If you do go to Pisa you need to allow at least an hour to get to and from the Tower and a quick glance. You will not have time (or the tickets) to climb the tower.

3. Naples - One of my personal favorite parts of Italy (we just spent 4 nights in that area this past May). One place you have not seen is Herculaneum, which is OK if you want more ruins. The Amalfi coast is an option, but this would be a bit of a challenge to do on our own (I could give you detailed info on how) and is generally best done by hiring a private car/guide. Since we never take tours, I cannot recommend a decent guide (I could find out for you) but expect to pay at least 350 - 400 Euros for such a tour. My wife and I have spent more than 2 weeks on the Amalfi Coast and still love to return (we always spend one day on Capri).

4. Santorini - I am not a big fan of that volcano tour, but if the teens want to hike than its OK. Most first time visitors spend most of the day in Fira and Oia (you can take a bus). Your teens would probably get a real kick out of taking the donkeys up to Fira from the marina. When we want to spend time exploring the island (away from Fira) we generally rent a car (you would probably need 2) since its an easy island for driving. Besides the wineries, there are actually a few beaches on the island of which we really like Red Beach (you have to walk a rocky path from the parking lot to get to this isolated beach.

5. Kusadasi - Ephesus is simply amazing! And now that they have opened up the Terrace Houses its even more amazing. The last time we were there my wife and I spent $4 for the local bus (I do not recommend this for your group) plus the 10 Euro entrance fee. The day cost us less than $50 total including some drinks and snacks. 50 Euros per person will make some poor Turkish entreprenaur very happy. But, we would recommend a private tour over the Princess tour. Ekol has a good reputation for Epehsus tours (Ekoltravel.com) and there are supposed to be some other decent tour companies. The first time we went to Ephesus we took a Princess tour and were not pleased (they rushed us through so they could take us to a phony jewelry factory). The next time we went on our own, but first-time visitor should take a tour. One warning! It will probably be very hot. Wear hats, take some water (or you can buy bottled water at the entrance) and wear sunscreen.

Mykonos - You will enjoy exploring the town for a while and perhaps stopping at a cafe. For the kids (and adults) I would simply recommend going to Paradise Beach (you can use a local bus or grab a taxi). This beach has excellent facilities, is good for swimming, and you can rent chairs and umbrellas. There is even a swimming pool (which makes no sense because there is a fine beach and great water). Your parents might even enjoy this beach, although it does get crowded during the main tourist season.

Athens - Its about a 15 minute walk (all flat) around the harbor to the train station in Pireaus. The train/subway is a great and fast way into the city, but be very careful of pickpockets (gypsies make a living on this train). At the Acropolis you can go on your own, rent audio tours, or join an English speaking tour near the entrance. The Plaka area and the adjacent Syntagma Square are also fun to explore.

Corfu - I live the name of the tour your parents booked, but have not a clue whether its any good. Corfu Town is a nice place with many decent cafes/restaurants. The island has quite a few decent beaches. Its another place where renting a car can be good, or you could just use the local buses. Its very tourist friendly and nearly everyone speaks some English. This island is really a major yachting haven so it is pretty upscale. There is a lot of info on the internet about the island. We have only spent part of a day there (we took a 20 person week long yachting cruise out of its port) and liked everything we saw.
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 06-27-2008, 07:55 AM
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Hank-
Thank you so much for your reply...your response was so helpful!
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 07-09-2008, 11:22 AM
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We are planning the same trip in Mid October, but my husband and I have never been to Europe. We are recently empty nest and have started traveling. What would you recommend as the activities worth doing in these ports to make our trip most enjoyable?

We will start in Rome two days before taking the train to Civitavecchia to leave port for Monte Carlo/Monaco for the day.

Next port Livorno, to see Pisa, Florence, (Tuscany) for the day.

Then on to Naples/Capri for a full day, we do want to see Pompeii and Capri..what do you suggest?

Next port will be Santorini, Greece for the day.
After that a day at Kusadasi, Turkey for Ephesus.

Next will be Mykonon, Greese for another full day.

Then on to Athens, Greece (Piraeus), again for the day.

Next port is Katakolon, Greece for a day in Olympia.

Almost there with a stop for the day i Corfu, Greece.

Last port is Venice for 2 nights.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 07-09-2008, 12:56 PM
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Hi Haygirl and welcome to Cruise Chat.

Congratulations on becoming empty nesters, and having your first trip to Europe planned. What a wonderful way to celebrate your new "freedom."

There is so much to see in each of your ports. Doing a general sightseeing tour (heavy on the bus or heavy on the walking) is always a good idea for first timers. The stops in Greece and Turkey will be terrific for the antiquity of those places. Take a tour of the excavated 4000 year old city in Santorini.

Mykonos, however, is a nice place to walk around on your own, if you're so inclined.

Venice, of course, is another great place to walk around, but a half day tour of the basic sights leaves enough time to do that in the afternoon.

Princess' shore excursion information has dozens of tours, so depending on your interests and activity level, there are probably 10 in each stop you could consider.

You can't really go wrong!

Sandy
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:01 PM
 
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I would also like to add my congrads to the new empty nesters. When our daughter finally moved out (after college) we knew that we were supposed to be depressed, but somehow that never happened If course the next big event is when you discover that you are now the children and your children are now the adults. When you start getting phone calls such as: "Mom, where are you, you are supposed to be home tonight!" you will know it has started.

As to your cruise (it looks great) my advice is to start by looking at the various tour offerings of the cruise line for each port. Their tours will give you a good idea of the various regional options. Than the next step would be to do a little research at a local large book store (we love Borders) to get a better feel for each port (the internet is also a good resource). You than need to decide whether you want to take the cruise line tours, book private tours on-line, or do some things on your own. Keep in mind that tours can get quite expensive so this might also be a consideration. Than, come on back here and a bunch of us will help.

Hank
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Old 07-09-2008, 02:37 PM
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Hi-

We are taking the exact trip but not until the beginning of August. If you post again after August 18th I will let you know what we did & how it went. In the meantime, I found Trip Advisor and Cruise Chat very helpful!

Kim
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 07-13-2008, 06:13 AM
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Yes, empty nest is quite nice, although with 5 grandchildren, from 6 to 7 months, close by we have a tendency to fill the part of the weekend babysitting or needed to help with this or fix that…lol. Why didn’t we have that kind of help when raising ours?

Thank you all for your responses. Since we booked this cruise last fall I have purchased a DK book on Italy and a DK book on the Greek Islands. What ports that were not in the books I printed off information from the internet. Yes, they call me Ms. Organized. I guess next I need to print out the different tours through Princess. It just seems so overwhelming to choose from, although I know they will have meetings on the cruise that give pictures and details as to the ports.
In Venice I do have a question. We will dock at Marittima Station berth and Princess offers a motorlaunch service to Riva Degli Schiavone, walking distance from St. Marks Sq. From here we are to take Line #1 to Saint’ Elena. When we purchase a ticket at the Marittima Station what kind of ticket should we purchase. Like a 48 hour but we need to also make sure we can use it to get to the airport after our two nights stay?
Any suggestions?
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 07-13-2008, 08:00 AM
 
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Venice is always a bit complicated. You can purchase a 24, 48 or 72 hour ACTV Pass which covers all the vaporettos that would take you around Venice and to the other islands in the Lagoon (Burano is our long time favorite). There is also the Venice Pass which costs more but includes the admission to a few museums and the free use of a public bathroom (I am serious). But neither of these passes covers the express transportation to the airport. I am not sure if the vaporetto pass will cover the #5 vaporetto, which runs to the airport, but if not, that used to be pretty cheap. The problem using the #5 is that its a local waterbus that makes several stops along the way. The cheapest way to get to the airport is by using the inexpensive bus (we are talking a real road bus) that runs from the Piazale Roma. There also is a boat (I am not sure what its called) that runs from near St Marks Sq to the airport, but you need to buy this ticket seperately (there used to be a reasonable add-on price to the Venice Pass, but it probably would not pay since you only want one-way to the airport). By the way, the last I heard Princess runs a shuttle from the cruise ship pier to St Marks Square,,,but they were charging $15 for this pass. If you buy a vaporetto pass, its possible to walk from the cruise ship to the nearest vaporetto stop (depending on the docking position it can be a few block walk), use your vaporetto pass, and save the $15. Princess used to leave this pass in everyone's cabin, and if you did not want to use it you had to go to the pursers desk and ask for a refund.

Hank
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Old 07-14-2008, 05:04 AM
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Thank you, Hank. Yes, Princess still offers the transport for a charge, I just wasn't sure if we could purchase the 48 hour pass from Princess and save the one trip charge or if there was another way, like you mentioned to exit the ship and then get the pass.
While we are anxiously counting down this trip, 3 months from today...One year ago today we departed on an Alaska Cruise out of Vancouver that was an awesome experience!
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Carnival Imagination Dec 1997
Princess Sapphire - July 2007
Carnival Holiday - Dec 2007
Princess Grand - Oct 2008

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